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Spring break equals risky behavior, profs say

March 18, 1997

By Colleen DeBaise

Tribune Media Services

MENOMONIE, Wis.--Students drink more, use more drugs and engage in riskier sex while on spring break than at their own campuses.

That's what two University of Wisconsin-Stout professors discovered after surveying 800 spring breakers on a Florida beach in 1995.

Three out of four men and two out of five women reported being drunk every day, while a third of the students said they used marijuana while on spring break, the professors said.

Also, men told the professors that they had more unprotected sex with new partners during the break than they typically had at home.

'Our findings are quite startling,' said the survey authors, tourism professor Bharath Josiam and psychology professor Gorge L. Smeaton.

Well . . . maybe to them.

Students, on the other hand, say the survey results are a pretty accurate reflection of fun-in-the-sun.

'It doesn't surprise me at all,' said Howard Kalin, an Ohio State University senior. 'The idea of spring break is based on partying. It makes a lot of sense.'

Kalin spent his spring break on the beach in Jamaica.

'I know me and my friends drank more than we normally do and used more drugs than we normally do,' he said.

In their survey, the professors noted that alcohol and drug use are linked to a variety of negative consequences, from severe sunburn to car accidents to unwanted pregnancies.

And, 'with hundreds of thousands of people vacationing in one location, there is also a strong possibility of bringing back sexually transmitted diseases,' Smeaton said.

But Kalin says that most students really aren't thinking about the consequences when they're away from campus.

'You don't have to worry about working. You have more free time,' he said. 'You can indulge a little bit more.'

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